Spanish cooking is rich and varied, much like the country
itself. First-rate ingredients, the excellence of which are
renowned, wise old popular traditions and the promotion of
fine new culinary professionals have boosted Spain's gastronomic
prestige to the top of the list in Europe over the past few
You can find a sample of our favourite Spanish
In general, there are six major gastronomic zones in
The North is one of the richest culinary areas. The fish and
seafood of Galicia, among the worlds finest, are prepared in
ways that are simply insuperable. Basque cooking is world famous,
and its codfish recipes, "pil-pil" or Vizcayan style,
and its delicious baby eels are some of Spain's finest food
attractions. In Asturias, try "fabada", a magnificent
bean stew, and the excellent regional cheeses with a good bottle
The Pyrenees is a zone that specializes in marinade sauces
known as "chilindrones". Aragon offers an infinite
number of dishes with these tasty sauces as well as the fine
ham made in Teruel.
Cataluña is the land of casseroles. Besides these typical
dishes are its fine sausages, cheeses and regional sauces,
some of them world famous, such as "ali-oli", made
with garlic and olive oil.
Valencia and the surrounding region specialise in rice dishes.
Besides their famous "paella", the Valencians are
able to prepare exquisite rice dishes with any type of ingredients
- meat, chicken, seafood, vegetables or fish. Also exquisite
is the rice dish from the region of Murcia known as "caldera",
Andalucia is the land of fried food. Its fried fish is insuperable.
There is also gazpacho, the exquisite cold vegetable soup,
and Jabugo ham from the province of Huelva which is a true
Central Spain is known for its roasts. Lamb, veal, sucking
pig, young goat and other meats are slowly roasted in wood
ovens to give them an especially delicious texture and taste.
The fine hams and cheeses, and some of the Best sausages in
Spain, round out this region's culinary offering. Madrid, so
closely linked to Castille, deserves special mention. Despite
not having a specific cuisine, per se, its strong identity
has made a mark on a large number of typical dishes from the
city. Among them are "cocido madrileño", a
nourishing meat and vegetable stew, Madrid style triple and
exquisite sweets. Another important chapter on Spanish cooking
must be dedicated to island cuisine.
The Balearic Isles have created certain celebrated specialties
that have been exported around the world. Among them are mayonnaise,
originally created in the city of Mahon, in Menorca. In Mallorca, "ensaimadas" are
exquisite light pastries, while "sobrasada" is a
The Canary Islands offer a very imaginative cuisine that has
had to overcome the limitations of the islands produce. Many
dishes include fish and a famous hot sauce known as "mojo
picón". There are also magnificent tropical fruits
from the island such as bananas, avocados and papayas.
The excellence of Spanish gastronomy can be seen in the offer
of the numerous fine restaurants. A reflection on a country
where the people love, respect and enjoy good food, Spanish
restaurants can satisfy any demand. They are classified in
five categories, indicated by a number of forks. These establishments
almost always close one day a week, usually Sunday or Monday.
Visitors will find that opening and closing times tend to be
later than in other countries, though in the tourist areas
the hours are often moved ahead or service is continuous. The
menu, which normally includes the price of each dish, is frequently
displayed outside the restaurant. If not, one can request to
see a menu before being seated. In any case, eating in Spain
can be an inexpensive treat. A large number of Spanish restaurants
take major international credit cards.
Wine is the Spanish beverage par excellence. With France and
Italy, Spain is one of the top wine producers in the world.
It has a great variety of high quality wines, grown and elaborated
in over 57 different areas, among which are some that are truly
Rioja wine is the king of Spanish table wines. The winegrowers
in La Rioja, who know that they produce one of the world finest
wines jealously protect its quality, while strict official
norms concerning the origin of wine make fraud impossible and
guarantee the prestige of these exquisite red wines of such
unmistakable bouquet and flavour.
Sherry is the most international Spanish wine, thanks to yearly
exports to numerous different countries. There are five different
kinds of this Andalucian wine, whose name in English derives
from "Jerez" because the first vineyards of this
type of wine were in the town of Jerez de la Frontera. There
is "Manzanilla", "Fino", "Amontillado", "Oloroso" and "Los
Dulces", or sweet Sherries.
Catalan Cava, grown in the Penedes region in Cataluña,
is an excellent sparkling wine whose magnificent cost/quality
ratio has allowed it to compete with French champagnes on the
most demanding international markets.
This beverage lacks a great tradition in Spain, though currently
it is quite popular and there are many breweries meeting the
country's demand. Spanish beer is inexpensive for the most
part and has low alcohol content. It is served cold and is
not a common beverage at meals. Beer is most frequent as an
aperitif to accompany the exquisite "tapas" offered
in most bars around the country.
Spain's famous brandy is the Best known of the Spanish liqueurs
but it is hardly the only one. Actually, each region has its
own special liqueur. The herb liqueurs from Galicia and Ibiza, "pacharan" from
Navarre, Levantine Absinth Andalucian "cazalla" and
the strong-smelling anisette from Chinchon, near Madrid, are
a few examples. Of special note is "orujo" or "aguardiente",
which is a stiff spirit distilled in many northern regions.
In general, the visitor to Spain will find that the liqueurs
are characterised by an excellent quality/cost ratio.